Consumer brands voice concerns on new retail alliance Epic’s gatekeeper activities
Brussels, 22 October 2021 – AIM, the European Brands Association, is becoming increasingly concerned about reports of the behaviours of new retail alliance Epic Partners, which spans markets from Portugal to Russia
Incorporated in Geneva in March 2021, Epic Partners brings together some of the most powerful retailers in Europe, and beyond: Edeka, Germany’s number 1 retailer (26% market share); Magnit, Russia’s number 2 retailer (20% market share); ICA, Sweden’s number 1 retailer (48% market share); Jeronimo Martins, Poland’s number 1 and Portugal’s number 2 retailer; and Migros, Switzerland’s number 1 retailer. This new retail powerhouse represents a combined market power of no less than €142 billion, beating Amazon as one of the most powerful buyers in the EU. However, with an eye on e-commerce, online retailer Picnic is also included in this alliance.
“We are hearing reports of the same gatekeeper manipulation being deployed against consumer brands manufacturers by Epic as has been the case for years by AgeCore, exploiting their significant market power across multiple markets and distorting competition”, commented Michelle Gibbons, Director General of AIM. “The tactics that are deployed by these gatekeepers were outlined in the recently aired ARTE documentary “Hypermarchés, la chute de l’empire”. Coordinated instructions to delist, or threaten to delist, products across multiple markets and extortionate fees charged to access markets – which is a form of market entry toll – are once again being deployed. With a retailer wielding Epic members’ market power, which can represent 20 to 30% of your sales in some markets, you have no choice but to yield to demands that are beyond unfair: they are anticompetitive and your business is held to ransom.”
Epic Partners is the latest in a series of international retail alliances created over the past few years, in which retailers jump from one to another. In a bizarre series of musical chairs, Edeka dropped AgeCore in March, announcing a new alliance, Everest, with Picnic, just after the French authorities in February raised serious concerns on the behaviours of such alliances, fining AgeCore EUR 177 million. Both Edeka and Intermarché dropped AgeCore, moving on respectively to new territories and new formations. Whilst welcoming the action taken by France, AIM continues to call on the EU to take similar action and investigate the activities of these alliances.
These gatekeeper alliances differ from genuine purchasing groups that bring together independent retailers, who work together with consumer brands manufacturers to ensure an efficient, effective, and fair supply chain that brings the best to the shelf for the consumer.
 Data source: Euromonitor Sales & Market Share 2020: Companies and financial investors reports
“There are many challenges right now in the supply chain with inflation, logistics difficulties and raw materials costs soaring. At the same time, we as consumer brands manufacturers continue to innovate, invest and transform our production processes and products for a more sustainable future. A fair supply chain that works together for a more sustainable Europe cannot operate with this kind of toxic behaviour that distorts competition and ultimately harms EU consumers and businesses”, remarked Michelle Gibbons, Director-General of AIM.
For further information, please contact: Amaury Libbrecht
Tel: +32 2 736 03 05 • Email: email@example.com
AIM (Association des Industries de Marque) is the European Brands Association, which represents manufacturers of branded consumer goods in Europe on key issues that affect their ability to design, distribute and market their brands. AIM’s membership comprises 2500 businesses ranging from SMEs to multinationals, directly or indirectly through its corporate and national association members.
More information: www.aim.be